DONINGTON PARK MAY 8/9 PREVIEW: CATERHAM SEVEN 270R CHAMPIONSHIP
The middle step of the Caterham Motorsport ladder kicks off this weekend at Donington Park, as the Seven 270R Championship gets ready to begin a new season on the National circuit. Thankfully, it appears that 2021 is going to be less disruption-filled than last year was, and hopefully with the current roadmap out of lockdown continuing, our schedule is unchanged and unaffected throughout. That will be good news to the list of drivers moving up to these ranks this year, with a particular duo set to carry on battling once more.
The Seven 270R is firmly established as the ‘coming-of-age’ championship for those progressing out of the Caterham Academy, through the Roadsport championship and now into their third year of Caterham racing. Unlike the lower categories, there is no restriction on professional team support or driver experience. The Seven 270R race cars have typically made their way up from the Academy ‘19 (or slightly earlier). They have now developed into race-focused machines, with stiffer suspension and removal of the windscreen and lights (though they can be quickly refitted for road use) giving them a very similar look to their Seven 310R big brother.
So, who is this duo we speak of, you ask? Well, it’s regular sparring partners Tom Wyllys and Blair McConachie who, no matter where they race a Caterham be it for real or virtually, just can’t leave each other alone – on track, you understand! This friendly but firm rivalry began in the 2019 Academy when Tom beat Blair to the title, and then carried on into last year’s Roadsport contest where…erm…Tom beat Blair to the title – again. That said, Blair has pushed him all the way to the end on both occasions and on his day can beat Tom in a straight fight for race victory. Whether or not the 270R upgrade will play in one driver’s favour more than the other remains to be seen, but the ambitions for both will be clear. For Tom, a third Caterham title on the bounce. For Blair, the chance to finally put one over his adversary and snatch the crown (and bragging rights) from underneath him!
Of course, these aren’t the only two cars on the grid, as will be others who will push them hard and challenge for race wins too. Apart from 9th placed Peter Morgan, every other driver from last year’s top 10 in the final points standings has moved up and is back for more. Finishing 3rd to 5th respectively, Harry Eyre, Carl Jones and Wes Payne all stole at least one win in 2020 and proved that it wasn’t just the “Tom and Blair Show” at the front of the pack. All of them could very easily upset their championships plans by executing their own, but they’ll have to be careful not to get too caught up battling between themselves to let others take advantage.
Those others include Nick Allbones (an unfortunate late withdrawal), Daryl Cresswell, Tim Steel and William Brunt. All four have hung around the top 5 and podium places on a number of occasions and will certainly be hoping the 270R upgrades work more in their favour this season to help boost their chances of greater results. Speaking of which, better results will certainly be on the mind of Dimitris Melas too. He’s a proven race winner from the Academy, but 2020 was a season that just didn’t quite go his way as he could only manage a best finish of 5th at Cadwell Park, leaving him a lowly 17th in points come season’s end. The goal for 2021 must be for him to catapult himself back into the leading group and to put on a strong title challenge.